Erik and Laura-Marie Magazine

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Location: Las Vegas, Nevada, United States

Zine maker, peace activist, writer, reader, feminist. I like listening to good listeners. Email me at robotmad (gmail).

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

elm 51: theft, vandalism, and regret

elm 47

elm 49

elm 48

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Sac Icarus Group

The Icarus Project
radical mental health by and for the mad community

support group / discussion group
for people with bipolar disorder and other dangerous gifts

for info about our first Sacramento meeting.

The Icarus Project envisions a new culture and language that resonates with our actual experiences of 'mental illness' rather than trying to fit our lives into a conventional framework.

We are a network of people living with experiences that are often diagnosed and labeled as bipolar or other psychiatric conditions. We believe these experiences are mad gifts needing cultivation and care, rather than diseases or disorders. By joining together as individuals and as a community, the intertwined threads of madness, creativity, and collaboration can inspire hope and transformation in an oppressive and damaged world. Participation in The Icarus Project helps us overcome alienation and tap into the true potential that lies between brilliance and madness.

The Icarus Project international collective:

Sunday, January 09, 2011

ELM 50

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

elm 45

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

ELM #43

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ELM #44

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

broccoli soup #43

Lately I’ve been cooking and baking a lot. This broccoli soup Erik loves very much, and I love it too.

broccoli soup

2 heads of broccoli, broken up
1 or 2 chopped red onions
about 6 cloves of garlic
2 veggie bullion cubes
2 low salt veggie bullion cubes

Saute the onion in some olive oil until it starts to brown. Add the pressed garlic. Saute for a couple more minutes. Add all the broccoli and enough water to cover it. Crumble in bullion cubes. Cover. Once the soup comes to a boil, set the timer for 15 minutes. By then the broccoli will be really soft. Use a hand blender to make everything liquid. Serve ladles full to hungry veggie-lovers.

Friday, September 28, 2007

plagiarism #42

When I was in high school, I plagiarized a paper for Driver’s Ed. I feel most guilty for the way it must have made my teacher feel. Now that I’ve been a teacher, I know how it hurts when your student tries to trick you.

“It was a long time ago,” Erik said.

“It was,” I said.

“The person who did that isn’t you,” he said.

“I would never plagiarize now,” I said.

“You’re a different person,” he said.

“Show me the grave of the person I used to be, and I’ll bury my guilt there.”

I have a problem forgiving myself. The pain accumulates, and my memory is full of events like this.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

pumpkin pancakes #42

2 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
4 tsp baking powder
3 tsp cinnamon
regular can canned pumpkin
1 1/4 cup milk or soymilk
1/4 cup vegetable oil or melted butter
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

Stir all ingredients together. If the batter is too thick, add more milk to thin it. Cook as pancakes.

These are delicious without syrup since there’s sugar in the batter.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

prison visit #42

My cousin S is in prison in Susanville. We wanted to go visit him there, so we applied months ago and got approval.

Saturday was the big day. We woke up at 5:30 in the morning and left at about 6:30. The drive is beautiful for the first half. We went up into the Sierras toward Reno. From Reno to Susanville is desert and not as pretty.

We arrived at about 10:15 and went to the visitor building. We were told we were in the wrong place, to go to the trailer for passes. At the trailer we were told to hurry because 11 to 12:30 no visitors are admitted. We filled out our passes and paper clipped our driver’s licenses to them, returned to the visitor building, and gave our passes to the guard there. He told us to sit.

We sat and waited. Other visitors were there. A man was delayed because of a Department of Justice flag. He and his wife had to wait while he was cleared. “Is there any way to find out why he has a flag?” the wife asked. There was a mom with her kids.

We sat on wooden benches. I was nervous. I didn’t know where to look.

Some visitors were called up to the guards to take off their shoes, empty their pockets and turn them inside-out, and pass through the metal detector. There are very particular rules about what can and can’t be brought in. A person can bring in two keys on a key ring, up to thirty dollars in ones and quarters, ten photos in a clear plastic coin purse or, more commonly, a ziplock bag.

When a visitor is done with the metal detector, they’re stamped on their right inner forearm, given back their pass and ID, and held in another room to wait for the van to take them over to the visiting area. That room is small with more benches.

We were called up by the guards. “The visiting room is full,” we were told. “It’s reached 150, which is capacity. You’ll have to go to the trailer and wait until 12:30 when we’ll start bumping people out.”

“Do we have to wait in the trailer?” I asked. I had no interest in spending an hour and a half in that trailer.

“No, you can go get lunch,” the guard said.

“Can I have my license back?” Erik asked.

“You driving?” the guard asked and handed Erik his license. We returned to the dusty gravel parking lot and headed toward Susanville—the prison is actually four miles outside of Susanville.

We were hungry--we hadn’t brought enough food in our little cooler. We don’t eat fast food, but I wanted Taco Bell. I wanted the predictability of bean burritos. Erik said no. We drove through town, looking for a real place, and decided to try a random Mexican restaurant. Then we saw Chinese and Japanese food restaurant. The idea of Japanese is what tempted me, so we looked at the picture menu outside the window. Erik wanted a teriyaki tofu chow mein bowl, while I wanted a teriyaki tofu rice bowl.

The food was unappealing. The tofu itself was nicely fried, but the teriyaki sauce was overly sweet, and my rice was soaked in it. I ate half of my food. “At least there was broccoli,” Erik said afterward.

We still had time to kill, so we drove through Susanville and saw a little cemetery. “Stop!” I said.

Erik parked and said, “The gate’s locked. We can’t go in.” I had seen a people-passage beside the locked gate and told him so.

We looked at headstones and calculated how old the dead were when they died. We marveled that someone who’d died in the 1930s had fake flowers on their grave. We realized that the grave we were looking at was of a baby, born and died the same day in 1936. As we continued through the cemetery, we noticed that all the babies had flowers on their graves. “Someone must have a baby fetish,” I said. All the veterans had flags on their graves.

We looked at the epitaphs, learned headstone designs, and pointed out unusual names. “What if there was a Taylor and a Lundgren and they were right next to eachother?” I asked. “Wouldn’t that be weird?”

Erik said, “That would scare me.”

It was a little hot. We went to tree shade. We started getting bored. “Should we go?” I asked.

“Flowers and flags, stones and bones,” Erik said.

Back at the prison, Erik returned his driver’s license, and we waited on a bench. We were called up to take off our shoes, turn our pockets inside-out, and pass through the metal detector. I went first. There was no beep. I was stamped and told to sit in the other room. I put my ID and pass in my pocket.

Erik went through the metal detector just fine too. We waited together in the little room. Meanwhile, the person after us was told she needed to change her shirt. “Go to the trailer. They have clothes there you can change into.” The woman was furious and slammed the door behind her, saying “fuck.”

Another couple was called up. That woman too was told that she needed to change her shirt. Her bra was showing through. One of the rules is “no transparent clothing,” which means anything pale, like white or yellow—I’m glad I wore gray and brown.

This woman was upset too and started to cry. She and her husband left for the trailer.

Eventually these people came back, the women in non-transparent clothing. The first one complained loudly after passing through the metal detector. “Idiots work here,” she said. “Idiots! Idiots!”

“We don’t have to be subject to this,” a guard called. “You can leave.”

“Thank you,” the woman said.

“Very good,” the guard said.

The other woman was still crying. “This is just so humiliating,” she said.

“Yeah,” the first woman said. “It’s like, who’s the criminal here!”

Another couple came in. This woman had long, long dark brown hair. She was wearing all white and was told she needed to put on another shirt and other pants. She came back in new clothing but couldn’t get through the metal detector. “Are you wearing an underwire bra?” a guard asked.

“Yes,” she said.

“You’re not going to be able to get through,” the guard said. “Go back to the trailer and they’ll help you.” One of the rules is that “undergarments must be worn at all times,” but they can’t have any metal. “You can get another bra, or you can rip the underwire out.” The men were getting through just fine—it was the women who had all the trouble.

A van came. We piled in and were driven a short distance to another building. There was a lobby and a front desk where we had to show our IDs, a UV light was passed over our inner forearms to read the stamps we had been stamped, and we had to print and sign our names in a log book.

Then we passed into a hall and waited there to be locked into a holding place, a double gate. It’s a section of hall that’s blocked off with two big locked doors. There’s one gate locked at all times.

In the actual visiting room, a guard took our passes from us. We stood at the edge of the room, looking to see if S was there. The room was full of prisoners and their families and friends. The room was loud with conversation. People sat at low round tables with chairs. Erik and I took a table and sat to wait for S to be brought to us. It was about 1.

I was overwhelmed by noise, movement, and just being there—trembling, trying to look calm. But everyone around us was in a good mood, happy to see their loved ones. A photographer took Polaroids for duckets against the backdrop of a big square mural of ocean waves crashing on a rocky beach. A young prisoner stood proudly with his pretty girlfriend, his arm around her, as the photographer, who was a prisoner too, took their picture.

Prisoners wear light blue long sleeved shirts with blue jeans or dark blue pants. The prisoner at the table nearest ours had his back to us, and on the back of his neck was a tattoo of a crab. The prisoners were mostly young and looked like nice people.

The reason each visitor can bring in up to 30 dollars in quarters and ones is that there are vending machines in the visiting room. I asked Erik to buy us some water, and it cost $1.25. The food there in the visiting room is considered desirable by the prisoners, treat food.

We started getting impatient. I looked around and saw that the visitors who had come in at the same time as us didn’t have their prisoner yet either, so we tried to relax. “Do you want to play cards?” I asked. There were games that could be checked out. A group near us played Scrabble.

A door opened, a guard stepped out, and a line of prisoners entered the room. We looked to see if S was among them, but he wasn’t there. The visitors who had come in at the same time as us were reunited with their prisoner family member, but why had S not come? We decided there must be some delay and kept waiting.

It was 1:30, then it was 2. I was upset that we would only have half an hour with S. Erik was angry. His body language had changed, and I felt a rising panic. “You’re not helping me here,” I said. “You can be angry later, okay?”

I went up to a desk where a guard sat. I told her, “I’m here to see,” and then the full name of my cousin. “Do you know if he’s coming?”

“I’ll call his yard,” she said, but Erik says he didn’t see her make a call.

A little later another guard saw us sitting alone and said, “Were you never brought your prisoner?”

“No,” we said, and I told him my cousin’s full name.

The guard left the room through the door that the prisoners had entered from, and we hoped that he would come back with S, but he came back alone.

Soon it was 2:25. Visiting hours were over at 2:30. “Visiting hours are now over,” a guard announced. “I need visitors up against that wall and prisoners to that side.” Couples kissed, and family members gave last hugs. Eaters finished up their food.

We were reluctant to leave our table. We were the only ones who never got to be with our prisoner. We didn’t want to give up.

But we got up and went to the side of the room, watching the door where the prisoners had entered. It opened. A guard stepped out, and behind him was my cousin. Erik and I saw him and stared. The guard talked to another guard. They looked at the clock—it was 2:30. My cousin looked healthy and was smiling. We waved, but he didn’t see us. Then the guard who had brought him took him away.

Erik kept watching the door, hoping they would bring him back, and I stood there with my eyes full of tears, thinking that we didn’t get one word. “We didn’t even get to hug him,” I thought, not speaking to Erik so I wouldn’t cry.

The visitors moved out of the building in groups of ten.
We passed by the guard who had tried to help us. “What happened?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” he said.

We passed into the holding area and back to the lobby, where we had to show our IDs and forearms again and sign out. A van came and brought us back to the dusty gravel parking lot. We got into our car and started out on the three and a half hour drive home.

“I can’t believe it,” I said. “All that way.”

“I knew it, once it was 2,” Erik said.

“Was it better, that we got a glimpse of him, or worse?” I asked. We agreed that S had looked healthy.

We drove back through the desert to Reno and got on the 80 to Sacramento. On the 80, we stopped at a forest rest stop and walked on a little trail by a pond. It was beautiful there, up in the conifers, and the air felt clean.

“There are worse things that happen in this world,” I said. “There was no loss of life or property.” We decided we would try again in a few weeks.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

book reviews #42

Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris
This book kept me company while I wasn’t feeling well. It’s essays—non-fiction memoir—many of them about being a kid, family, growing up gay. It’s all refreshingly concrete, fast paced. It has some heart-wrenching, poignant moments. It has some funny moments where I laughed alone. It’s easy, satisfying reading.

Death in Venice by Thomas Mann
I heard this described as a novella, but I thought it was more like a short story. It has many big words in it, and lots of darkness, so I almost set it aside a few times, like when I realized it’s the kind of tale where you’re watching someone’s life spiral out of control. It’s painful to see, but it happens pretty quickly.

Something about Death in Venice is beautiful and moving. All the comments about art are stated with such authority and scream for debate.

I wanted to see what all the high school kids had to read for English class, I was interested because of the homosexuality, and it’s short enough that I could get through it with minimum investment.

On some level I enjoyed it. I couldn’t relate to the main character very much, but it was fascinating sort of like Lolita to watch someone feeling things they shouldn’t and to see how it destroys them.

Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry
Speculative fiction, a kid’s book—Lowry is one of my favorite authors from my youth. I loved her Anastasia series, which is light and happy, as well as Us and Uncle Fraud, which is excellent and very much influenced me.

Gathering Blue is consistently serious and somewhat dark but definitely written for young people. I was hooked and fully inhabiting its world by about page 60.

A disabled girl has a special gift with thread. She’s living in a harsh, post-apocalyptic place. She’s smart and lovable, but not as smart as the reader—the reader figures out all the mysteries before she does, which is fine.

I like it—I recommend it, though it was a bit slow at pulling me in. Now I plan to read The Giver, Lowry’s other speculative fiction book for young adults.

Women in Love by DH Lawrence
I listened to this book on tape. I learned about how people feel and interact: the physicality of feelings, what we want, the ways we torture one another, the conflict of relationship. I never would have explained human behavior in the way DH Lawrence does, and I find it insightful. He’s not afraid to be meaningfully repetitive, and his characters are full of passion. I like the nudity and dreaminess. Also, DH Lawrence makes memorable scenes, and the characters are irritating but complex and lovable.

The Giver by Lois Lowry
“You should read The Giver,” a friend said. “It’s a good book.” Something about her tone of voice, a hint of challenge like a dare, made me feel that The Giver would upset me, and I was right.

Following in the footsteps of Brave New World and 1984, this book causes the reader to think about power in society and to look critically at cultural norms. I can see why it won so many awards. It also causes the reader to feel strong feelings. One of my problems with the book is that it’s sometimes too rough with the reader. I was profoundly disturbed by a particular nightmarish scene, and it feels sensational, keeping its audience interested in the worst way.

Another problem I have with the book is how I didn’t care about the characters until a third of the way through. The first third is all setting and plot. I would have liked it to be much longer. I would have liked to spend a lot more time with Jonas and The Giver once I got to know them.

Anyway, the second half is brilliant, even though the reader is sometimes tossed around like a rag doll. The ending is ambiguous and leaves much for discussion.

I would recommend this book to people who are feeling strong and tough. It’s speculative fiction with original ideas, and it does a good job with its project once it gets through the initial set up.

Hello, Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks & Other Outlaws by Kate Bornstein
I skimmed the first half, which serves as a long preface. The 101 suggestions themselves are what I requested it from the library for. Also, Kate Bornstein is a famous genderqueer author, and I was curious about how she would address other things. It turns out that her genderqueerness comes up a lot in the first half of the book, which I did enjoy bits and pieces of. Bornstein (who I am myspace friends with, by the way!) is a bit sex-obsessed in this book, which might be its only drawback. Straight-edge kids and younger kids could feel put off. A third reason I was interested is that I’m curious about suicide as a subject, suicide prevention, and teenagers / youth culture. So a few of my interests came together. A fourth reason is that it’s caused a bit of a stir. She mentions some dangerous alternatives to suicide as last resorts, which caused some libraries not to include it in their collections.

As for the 101 suggestions, some are common sense, while some are more provocative. We all might need a little instruction on psychological self-care, and Bornstein is intelligent about it though sometimes facile. I found myself implementing some of her suggestions immediately, and my life was slightly enriched. The way she uses symbols to rate the difficulty and danger level is cute. And I admire the way she takes risks. I would have liked more detail, more true love, and less cross-referencing.

Diary of a Mosquito Abatement Man by John Porcellino
This is a book of black and white comix about John’s time as a mosquito abatement man. Often heart-rending, often beautiful. John makes the zine King Cat and is Zen Buddhist. I met him a few years ago at the San Francisco zine fest.

Hard Love by Ellen Wittlinger
This is a young adult novel that I read because it’s a good friend’s favorite book. It’s a story about a boy who falls in love with the girl, only the girl is a lesbian, so it’s not going to work out. Interestingly enough, the two main characters are zinesters, which is another reason I wanted to read it. There’s a lot about family trouble, but the characters’ pain doesn’t damage the reader. The last third is suspenseful: I went into a reading frenzy like any good novel makes me do.

No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July
Brilliant, disturbing short stories. Like story-length prose poems. Often sexually perverted—there’s some borderline incest and sex under duress that really got to me. The story that made me cry a lot featured a young woman who became a sex worker out of desperation for money, and I really cared about her character and didn’t like her to be in that situation. Often funny—I giggled, at times. Always insightful about people and how desperate we feel. It creates a quirky world. It’s dreamy and excellent.

Take the Cannoli by Sarah Vowell
I was charmed by Sarah Vowell in the They Might Be Giants movie Gigantic. She is so likable: articulate, insightful, full of personality. So I got this book of essays written by her, and I’m not disappointed. No, I have never heard her on NPR. I know it’s cliché, but I really feel like I can relate to her. I remember growing up with Reagan and being afraid during the cold war. I read On The Road and got into the Beats when I was a teenager too. I was raised Christian and moved away from it while retaining all the memories too. She and I have so much common ground, but she can talk about it all with ease where I’m still halting and unsteady. I admire her a great deal.

The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith
This book is made of clever and funny spoofs of common fairy tales. The illustrations are gorgeous. I don’t know what age group is the target here: maybe children would like it face value, but someone would have to be very familiar with the fairy tale genre and probably a grown up or precocious kid to get many of the jokes. Favorite tales are “The Princess and the Bowling Ball,” “The Really Ugly Duckling,” and “The Other Frog Prince.”

Adam Bede by George Elliot
There is some solid storytelling here, but I feel unsure about the characters—are they more three dimensional than two dimensional? The portrayal of the only child character is painfully twee—I thought the same thing about Eppie in Silas Marner. But the narrator says sharply insightful things. The dialect is interesting, and I trust the settling, so I’m getting a peek at another time and place. I keep going to see what will happen.

The Fear Book by Cheri Huber
Huber writes self-help books influenced by Zen Buddhism. They include illustrations, and the text is in a handwriting font. Intended to be less heavy than usual self-help books, with less verbiage and more “ah-ha” moments. I find The Fear Book insightful, though I have the problem I always have with self-help books—I feel too unusual for the advice they give, that much of the advice doesn’t apply. But some of it does. I’ve had problems with anxiety throughout my life, so the subject is apt. I like this one.

The James Joyce Murders by Amanda Cross
Okay, so people don’t really talk like this. Erik objects to the dialog. (We read this book out loud together.) I enjoy hearing clever characters be clever. The mystery itself is compelling—we didn’t know who done it and wanted to know. I have a special fondness for Amanda Cross and her main character, literature professor Kate Fransler. I’d read all the other mysteries by Cross—this was my last one.

Fun Places to Go with Children in Northern California by Elizabeth Pomada
Erik and I don’t have children and don’t intend to, but I thought this book would talk about the kind of attractions I’m attracted to. It’s fun to flip through. I found a good handful of places I’m curious about visiting. It’s clear, detailed.

The Golden Ass by Apuleius, translated by Robert Graves
We only made it halfway through this book because it has so many gross-out moments. Graphic violence repulses us. There are good things about it too, like a smart retelling of the Psyche-Cupid myth that lasts three chapters.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

two dreams from #41

the blue glove

I dropped one of my blue gloves into the river far, far below. I asked a little girl to get it for me, because the river was so shallow there, and I could see it. I was too tired / busy to go. She said yes--then I realized this was a dangerous errand, and she might drown. “No, I changed my mind—don’t get it for me,” I said, but I knew she might try anyway, and it would be my fault if she died. How could I force her or convince her not to go down to the river for the blue glove?


We crashed our car into a helicopter that was trying to land on the road. Then we got interrogated and captured by evil soldiers who thought we were spies. They were interrogating us in a language we couldn't understand. Then they beat and tortured us (the torture took place off-camera) and held us prisoner. They enjoyed hurting us. At the end, someone came around doing a form and found we were being held without cause, and we were let free, but we didn't know where to go. Many other people were let free at the same time, and none of us knew where to go.

Monday, May 21, 2007

more about my religion #41

One of the reasons that I respect Vedanta is that it’s non-recruiting. Visitors are welcome, but there is no missionary work. This is important to me because I need to practice a religion that views all religions as valid paths to god. The way missionaries go into other cultures, tell people that their native beliefs are wrong, and use tricks and bribes to win the natives over offends me. Even when better medical care results, or other benefits like more power for women, it’s still culture-destroying. Knowledge is lost forever, and there’s little more patronizing and paternalistic than white people going to another country and telling the brown people that their entire world-view is incorrect.

Related to the non-recruiting, Vedanta is not run on a business model. Giving money is not pushed. We have a bookstore at the Sacramento center, but it’s there as a service to the devotees (somewhere to buy books, incense, and statuary) rather than as a money-making venture. Also, meeting with Swami is free—all instruction in meditation is free. A private interview at Erik’s zendo requires a donation, but Vedanta has no expectation.

The personalities of the leaders vary, but at our center, Swami is calm, detached, and has a live-and-let-live way of being. Many religious leaders I’ve seen through the course of my life remind me of used car salesmen, and they seem to have been chosen as business leaders or actors rather than as deeply spiritual people. I have never seen any Vedantan Swamis who behave in this way.

I love Vedanta the more time I spend with it. It becomes more comfortable, like old blue clothes. The more I know it, the more I feel at home. My problems with gender trouble become less important as a result of my involvement with a religious women’s group, where strong women govern ourselves, and no men are allowed or needed.

That said, I have never felt more like an atheist. I’m an experiment in a super-religious atheist, an example of how to do a religion without any faith.

Some days, ritual feels like superstition. I think insults like, “Why are you waving that stick of incense at that picture? It’s just a picture.” Some days, it all feels like a waste of time. I think, “We should be doing something useful, helping the world.”

Some days, I feel so out of place and ashamed. What would my friends think if they knew I’m such an atheist? I feel like a drop of oil completely separate in a bowl of water. In the women’s group, I love my Samiti sisters, but after our monthly meetings, when we socialize, sometimes I don’t feel like one of them. They speak of Mother as a personal god, who answers prayer and watches over them, in a way that I just can’t accept as true.

Despite all this strife, Vedanta does makes concessions for atheism. Official written dictum at the Tabuco Canyon center in Orange County says that realization / enlightenment can be obtained without belief in god. Our particular center doesn’t state this, but Vedanta’s main prophet, Swami Vivekananda, who brought the teachings from India to the west, was an atheist sometimes, and he’s deeply loved, revered for his loyalty and intelligence. In that sense, I have safety. Skepticism is equated with sharpness of mind.

My best friend in town P, the one who runs the choir, knows I have no faith, and she says that maybe when I’m older, it will come to me. She says she’s found it only recently, and she’s 71. She’s said to me that hard-earned faith is the strongest when it comes, and what she says makes sense, because it didn’t arrive on a whim. Once I do have faith, maybe I can believe it with all my being, but that’s hard to imagine from my current vantage point.

The solution isn’t another religion. I don’t feel drawn to Christianity, though it would be so much easier, for the most part, to accept my local culture’s standard. I don’t feel drawn to any other religions either, though Erik’s Buddhism appeals to me in many ways, and Buddhist ideas become part of my own mind’s way of thinking from so many conversations with Erik about problems and solutions. His perspective is very much Buddhist, and I respect him entirely.

Over the past year I’ve attended two different interfaith events. One was held at a Roman Catholic church, and that was near Christmas. The other was held at a Christian church. Both had religious leaders from various faiths giving short talks, and listening to all of them made me feel secure that Hinduism is the only religion that could possibly work for me. What Swami said made complete sense. I never felt he was watering down the truth or getting side-tracked. He never behaved like a used car salesman, like I mentioned earlier so many other religious leaders do. His understanding of reality most closely matches mine, and Buddhism is a close second, which makes sense—Buddha was Hindu, after all, in the same way that Jesus was a Jew. Some think of Buddhism as an offshoot of Hinduism. I like the way contradictions and paradox are welcome. They can’t be wished away or forbidden away.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

tomato rice #41

Of course you like garlic--we all do. You might think this recipe looks boring, and you want to put garlic in it. Well, you can, but it would be a new dish.

As it is, tomato rice is all about the tomato. Its subtleties and complexities are showcased in this delightful, any-time-of-the-day dish.

one ripe tomato
leftover rice
half a ripe avocado
olive oil

Dice the tomato. Saute it in some olive oil for a few minutes.

Add the leftover rice. Break up any clumps, and sauté them together until the rice is heated through and then some.

Serve with avocado to taste and plenty of salt.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Melanie #41

I was the smartest girl, from Kindergarten through second grade, at my small school, where we wore dresses every day. I read more, did math better, wrote well. I was the smartest girl except for one, my enemy.

Her name was Melanie. She was also more polite and reasonable than me. She was blond, soft-spoken, with freckles, and seemed rich at the time. Her family was a paragon of gentle whiteness.

I went to a slumber party at her big, clean house. She had a huge trampoline, and we took turns jumping in the middle until our moms came to pick us up.

She could sing in French and knew how to weave baskets. “I can weave baskets too,” I said, because it seemed self-explanatory.

After second grade, I went to a new school. But one day, in sixth grade, there was a special event, and we met, just the two of us, in a hallway.

She recognized me, and I didn’t recognize her. She said, “Don’t you remember me? I’m Melanie.”

She wore thick glasses and was no longer thin. Her skin seemed stretched tight on her body, and she had acne. She was so kind to me--gentle and good. “How are you?” she asked, despite the way I had been so mean to her those years ago and called her Mel’s Diner.

I was shocked. I swallowed all my jealousy, and we spoke warmly. We were adults for a moment.

Who knows where she is now, but she’s probably still better than me, which is fine.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

philosophy #41

Philosophy is like trying to get pregnant by talking on the phone. –Laura-Marie